March 8th: Zeitausgleich

Entspannt statt Eingespannt

One of a number of actions planned in Graz for International Women’s Day (March 8th), the ‘Zeitausgleich (literally ‘time balance’, or time off in lieu) - Entspannt statt Eingespannt’ day-long event consists of three tents around the city centre. The aim is to create a relaxed atmosphere where women can find a retreat from the stresses and strains of everyday life, caught between their paid and unpaid work.

The enormous pressure to serve as ‘angel of the home’ is one of the key issues facing women in all professions today—in addition to their paid work, there is still a cultural and institutional expectation that women fill traditional roles as patient caregivers for family members, as perfectionist housekeepers, and as unpaid volunteers within the community. This action is a call for a redefinition and reevaluation of paid and unpaid work, together with a focus on the division of tasks within partnerships and families. In doing so, the simple gesture of inviting women to put their feet up for once without feeling guilty becomes an affirmation with deeper-rooted political meaning.

At the same time, the event demonstrates that the question of ‘equal pay for equal work’ is still, all these years later, appallingly topical. (It reminds me of a recent demo in the US: women in suffragette costumes holding placards that simply read “I cannot believe I still have to protest this shit”.) The stark reality is that, in this day and age, women on average earn 23.7% less than men for the same work. 23.7%. To be seen on exhibition in the Zeitausgleich tents, Iranian photographer Maryam Mohammadi’s striking series depicting women in the workplace simultaneously draws our attention to this extraordinary disparity and shows women in action doing an enormous range of jobs: from mechanics to hairdressers, farmers to waitresses, policewomen to flight attendants, tram drivers to seamstresses. Her photographs are not just of sociological interest; they are refined works of art in themselves, each one telling its own atmospheric story. Mohammadi frames telling details—the glint of a bracelet, the subtle strength of a thumb—and plays with a sophisticated balance of texture, light and shadow, providing everyday yet fascinating glimpses into the lives of others. The understated scenes she opens up for us are as mundane and as beautiful as the daily grind itself.

A total of approximately 81% of part-time workers are women. Of those part-time workers, 38% of women give their reason for not working full-time as the need to provide care for others—children or older relatives—as opposed to just 3.1% of their male counterparts. Hopefully these women, often angels caught between the workplace and the home, in particular will find the time to visit one of the tents today, take a break and relax a little, in line with the event’s motto: ‘Muße ist Frauen-Muss’.

Verfasser / in:

Kate Howlett-Jones


Thu 07/03/2013


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March 8th: Zeitaugleich
Entspannt statt Eingespannt

Veranstaltungen am 08.03.2013,
an diversen Orte in Graz:
09.00-18.00 Uhr: Hauptbrücke
09.00-14.00 Uhr: Lendplatz
13.00-18.00 Uhr: Karmeliterplatz

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